Plans to add three blocks of protected bike lanes to Chicago Avenue from Sheridan Road to Davis Street were put on hold this week after one alderman sharply objected to the idea and another pushed for more public discussion of the city’s overall bike strategy.

Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, said she’s “extremely opposed” to the Chicago Avenue project.

She said the plan to reduce on-street parking to make room for the bike lane would conflict with the city’s economic development goal to bring more people downtown and claimed it would be dangerous to add bikers to the street.

But Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, said bikes are already on the street and providing a safer solution for them would help.

“Being a bike-friendly city is good for business, too,” Grover added.

City staff told aldermen there’s sufficient unused parking in the Church Street garage to replace the lost on-street parking and proposed reserving the first level of the garage for two-hour parking for shoppers.

Burrus suggested putting the bike lane on the largely-residential, and narrower, Hinman Avenue one block to the east — which would leave unresolved how cyclists would get to the businesses along Chicago Avenue to shop there.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said that at a recent meeting in her ward there was “extreme concern” about the way bike lanes have been done all over the city. She called for more public meetings on the issue.

Public Works Director Suzette Robinson said the city, which has received a $1.4 million grant for the Chicago Avenue bike lane project, is under time constraints to get the project designed this year and under construction by next spring.

“If we can’t do it next year, it will have to wait until 2017, because we have projects on Emerson, Ridge and Green Bay coming up in 2016,” Robinson said, and there’s a limit to how many downtown streets can be torn up in a single construction season and still keep traffic flowing.

Seeing that at least two of the six members of the committee appeared to be uncomfortable with the project, City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz stepped in saying he was concerned “that staff and council are not in sync.”

“Staff needs clear direction, from the committee or full City Council,” Bobkiewicz added.

After some discussion the committee decided to place the overall bike plan and the Chicago Avenue project on the agenda for a full City Council meeting to be held on either the third or fifth Monday in September.

Related story

City maps plan for Chicago Avenue bike path

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Burrus completely misses the point

    Bicyclists are going to ride on the streets that provide the best and quickest access to the places they are going irrespective of where the city places bike lanes. 

    Personally, I often ride (and drive) on Chicago and find the traffic patterns completely disorganized and dangerous. For example, how many lanes are there on the street and if there are multiple lanes when does that end? Accordingly, I ride in a position that occupies a lane (as considered reasonably necessary under Illinois law). Does this slow down traffic on Chicago – yes – will it improve with a bike lane – maybe.

    1. Chicago Ave.

      Jon is exactly right.  Chicago Ave. is not a bad street to bike in the lanes as it is, but there are very poor lane markings and the number of lanes changes by block.  A better designed street, just as it is right now, would have room for both cars and bikes.

      I've been watching the corner of Chicago and Main for awhile now, as it is congested and complicated and difficult to cross as a pedestrian.  So many cars want to turn left or right, that they are constantly fighting for space with pedestrians and cyclists trying the cross the streets.  Adding a whole other bike lane would either solve all the problems or get people killed trying to turn left.  We already know that happens in bike lanes in Evanston.


      1. Let’s not permit the tragic

        Let's not permit the tragic accident in front of the library drive the thinking about the overall safety of bike lanes. What happened to that cyclist, with regard to the bike lane, is unknowable. Perhaps the City can convene a forum of bicyclists to describe their experiences with bike lanes to inform the discussion.

  2. Chicago Ave Bike Lane

    Burrus such a hater.

    Crowning of the road on Hinman makes it unsuited to creation of a protected bike lane. Residential streets don't provide access to the commercial assets that bike riders need — including those from neighboring areas (Chicago here). And interfering with residential parking is probably not in anyone's best interest.

    The Alderman would probably prefer that we ride on sidewalks. Wait, that's illegal.


    1. Considering that most of

      Considering that most of Dodge is residential maybe alderman should rethink installing the ugly protected bike lanes on any residential sites. I think that marked bike lanes would suffice.

      1. Couldn’t agree with you more.

        Couldn't agree with you more. I don't understand why Evanston has to pursue the most invasive, expensive, and non-intuitve solutions while trying to figure out where bike routes should be. On the street in the directlion of traffic, marked with white lines and tasteful signage, all without taking away parking. Seems like many in the City Government want Evanston to look like Everytown, USA. Not me. No thank you. We can have bike lanes AND a beautiful, unique town. It might be a bit more frugal, too.

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